Today, (Monday) marked the first official day we started our busy dance schedules! We woke up, ate a quick breakfast and headed to the University of Panama to take a class with some Panamanian dance students. Each day, people from our movement exchange team took turns teaching an hour and a half dance class teaching 45 seconds of choreography for the dance we would be performing with the University students at the theatre on Friday! It was so neat meeting the students, teachers and the head of the dance department. They were all extremely welcoming and excited to take class. I wasn’t sure what dance styles they did, but after talking to a couple of them in my broken Spanish I found out they take a lot of ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop. So it seemed to match up with what I was used to taking at home. I was excited to come back each day for the next 5 days and interact with the students and see what types of exchanges we could give to one another.
After we were at the University we all got shuttled to our location where we would be teaching the kids for the next 5 days. First we dropped off three of our team members at Aldea Orphanage. These kids lived with families but had a very poor background. Then the next group went to Danillo Perez, which was not an orphanage but an at risk foundation for kids. Then last was our group, Syon, Brittney, Madison and myself. We were at the Malambo Orphanage. This was a Catholic all girl orphanage, which had a coed school during the day but only girls lived there who came from broken down homes or abused families.
As we pulled up to the orphanage, Brittney and I (the no hablar espanol girls) were trying to look up things to say to the girls as they came inside. Our Spanish phrase of the day was “Hola Chicas! Eres Emocionado?” –“Hi Girls! Are you excited?” We were so excited to see their faces run into the room and greet us, hardly even knowing us.
We could tell that these kids were starved for attention and physical touch. It was so neat to see their faces light up with joy when we played the music or simply gave them a hug or a high five. They were so driven to practice what we taught and do what they were told to get better.
I knew the language barrier was maybe going to be difficult for me but the coolest thing was I got to reach these kids through teaching them dance and counting in Spanish, there was no barrier. I felt like I could be impacting these children by my actions and by something I knew I did well. I was using my gift that I had in dance in ways I never thought imaginable.
After this day, I saw how much dance has the potential to reach children and people who are at risk with this vision from Movement Exchange.
Taking class with the University of Panama students.
Trying to perfect my stalls with Omid.
Dance class with the girls from Azusa Pacific Dance Company. (Brittney, Me, Maddison, Syon)
Arrived at Malambo Orphanage!
The kids jungle gym at the orphanage!
The kids loved their piggy back rides 🙂 (This is Olivia, one of the girls we got to teach dance to for the week)
A little note from Genesis, one of the other girls we taught dance to during the week 🙂